Saturday, May 24, 2008

Well it Seems

I just found the song that God used to invite me to a deeper commitment to himself when I was 13.  One Friday or Sunday night sitting in a building that no longer exists in Hurstville, Sydney in 1989 we sang this song and, along with many other things God was doing in my life at the time, it called me to in deeper way than ever before "give my life to him and him alone".  I don't know who it's by - if any of you St Gile's readers know - I'd love to know who actually wrote it.

Well It Seems

Well it seems like there are just so many things
That can take my heart away from you oh Lord.
Oh please, please help me Lord to see the emptiness they bring,
And by your grace I'll serve you always,
You are my King.

Verse 1:
I'm bound up in a course of education
The pressures on to study and succeed
I'm seeking a career, some money and my self-esteem
Am I really doing this for you or me?

Verse 2:
Some friends I have do things that do not please you,
And it's sometimes hard to differ from the crowd
Relationships are fine, but only under your control
Am I showing all my friends how great you are?

Verse 3:
When I think of all you left behind to save me,
Your Father's glory and your heavenly home
The sacrifice you made for me is just beyond compare
I give my life to you and you alone.

Psychological shaming

Just having a lovely coffee reading todays paper.  Leunig's article today had a quote I just had to share: "Psychological shaming has displaced moral shaming" - I reckon that's so true.  

It's led me to thinking about what impact does this have on our "Centred set theology" (ie. being an inclusive community centred around Jesus).  I wonder whether we have replaced moral fences with psychological fences in the name of "health".  Mmm ... pondering, any thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's about the kingdom

I'm in one of those spots where I'm more convinced then ever that life, true life, is about God's agenda for the world and not my own.  More than ever I know that means me needing to be prepared to put aside the various things that are important to me that are out of step with God's heart for the world.  These include big life decisions through to minute by minute decisions ... it involves painful decisions to choose for true life above short term, feel good life.  I know deeply that it's so worth it but yet despite that I continue in many ways and at many times to choose the path that leads to death rather than life.  However, God, in his grace, continues to call me back into embracing the life that he offers, and as I do that I have more of a hunger to join in with his heart for the world.  I pray that in the smaller and bigger decisions of life I, and you, would choose for the things that really matter above what seems to be the thing we want right now.

Two places yummy places to eat

In the last couple of weeks I've eaten at some great places - as well as the Oriental Tea house yesterday, a few weekends ago in Daylesford I went out for dinner with my housemate and we went to a pub that had been recommended to us: The Farmers Arms, it was truly amazing.

Then last weekend I took my dad to Soul Mama which I love.

To what end?

For years I've been thinking about the fact that if you pursue something, you are likely to not get it.  For example, pursuing community as an end in itself seems to kill community rather than produce it.  On the other hand, getting on with doing good in the world together, tends to produce good community as a by-product.  I was reminded of this yesterday as I was talking about the way in which I am a boss to staff (which I think I do well, and staff tend to say the same ... well mostly, I've had one staff member in my time not like my style and I now understand alot of why).  Anyway, as we talked yesterday, I realised that while I love lots of what I do as a boss, I think I am too far up the end of "caring for the staff member" and not enough up the end of "focusing together on the world we are serving".  It was the by-product of this that hit me yesterday in a way I've never thought as strongly as yesterday: if I concentrate on caring so deeply for them above focusing on the outward focusing that we are wanting to do, what am I modelling and encouraging others in.  Not surprising for someone with a prophetic/pastoral gifting to find this balence a bit of a difficult one - but I think I had some new insight into it yesterday.  

Oriental Tea House

Yesterday my boss/colleague and I spent the day discussing some things to do with the role I am FINALLY completely into (yay! what a relief).  She took me for lunch to a place she'd recently been to and thought "this is Barb - I must bring her here" - it was great - the Oriental Tea House.


Lots of my friends are pregnant at the moment - I'm enjoying walking the journey with them.  I've realised in the last few days one is due each month July - Sept.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What are you passionate about?

Today was theological reflection.  It sounds a bit unheard of it seems but I love theological reflection - it's one of the highlights of my week.  How excellent is it to have to meet together with a group of other people to think through what various theological resources say about situations in all of our lives and pastoral situations.  And again it seems a bit unheard of but I do like our group.  Often people struggle in theological reflection because of people from various perspectives and colleges are in the groups - I'm loving it, certainly helped along by someone who leads that well and also the fact that my own theological perspective is embracing of people in different places.  The main way we think through issues is thinking through our first response to the situation and then thinking through the issue from the perspective of various theological resources: scripture, tradition, reason and experience.  It's a helpful framework that I really like.

So today one of the things we thought about through a situation in someone's life was what is the place of passion in ordained ministry ... great question and great time of quiet prayer for me afterwards too.   

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

So yesterday was Mother's Day.  It hit me fairly hard - harder than I expected.  Really not surprising but hard and I didn't predict it.  So not surprising since my primary grief has been around the person who was my mother not being in the world (umbilical cord breaking etc etc). 

However, in many ways at least on surface that's not what hit me most.  What hit me most was spending the whole weekend with my community of faith and not one person mentioning it or acknowledging it.  In stark contrast I had a phone call from someone I used to work with (who has been lovely through it all) while I was at our final time of our weekend away at 1.30pm yesterday - just ringing to see how I was doing.  It was lovely but did mean the contrast was in my face. I had a few messages indicating it through the day - that was lovely.  

But no-one I spent the weekend with acknowledged it.  Now it did lead to me leaving the bbq and going to a private spot and having a moment with God in tears and felt met amazingly - it was good.  But that doesn't take away the pain of no acknowledgement by people in my day to day local faith community (there was acknowledgement from my wider/potentially closer in many ways faith community - non Solace people).

The lovely thing is that I haven't for a moment questioned anyone's care - there is no question in me that people care.  What I'm sad and hurt by is the lack of expression of that care yesterday.  And more than that it's made me ask questions about how we foster that kind of care in faith communities.  And what stops it from being expressed.  For us as Solace I think the biggest thing is just how stretched we are with our own lives and have very little room for things beyond that - particularly things that take brain or emotional space; we are poor in those areas, as well as time.  I think another is lack of knowledge of whether it's best to ask or not - I've certainly come to the conclusion that acknowledgement is better than non acknowledgement.  It is possible that some people thought of it but didn't know whether to say something or not.  Another question for me is whether people are less likely to ask about or acknowledge such things because I'm a leader in the community - as I've thought about it, I've decided that to whatever extent that is true, it's neutralised by the fact that more people know more and have closer relationships because I'm a leader.  Yet another thing I'm conscious of is the good old someone else will do it. (thankfully they did - just not anyone there over the weekend and on the day not anyone connected with Solace)  Another issue I'm conscious of is the fact that I am quite good at these things so therefore expect more of others.

But past the sadness and hurt, my main question is what does it mean to foster care and thoughtfulness in the midst of faith community?  As I talked it over with someone tonight I was conscious of the need for prompts for people to put things forward in some way because people just aren't going to know/remember things well given our lives - we will probably act on that in some way at 5pm ... in fact the conversation produced a great suggestion about a prayer box/board that local people can request prayer for stuff.  I'm loving where the conversation and thoughts are taking me and the few who I've talked to.  That is the main reason for this post.

(Solace people who are reading this - I hesitated before writing this but wanted to share the journey.  I am sad and hurt by the weekend/Sunday's experience in this regard - although in general had a great weekend including some things on Sunday.  Please do hear my statement above about having no question of care - that's a HUGE affirmation of who we are and the care I know you have for me.  But the question I'd have for us, myself so included, is how to mimimise the times when this kind of hurt and disappointment occurs - and I'm wanting to be more proactive than ever about that given my experience on the weekend.  Please do speak to me about it as the last thing I want to help along is guilt over this situation - although I am most happy to prompt each of us to question what we can do within our resources and how we facilitate being able to be people we want to be)